China's home-grown C919 passenger jet completes its maiden flight as Beijing takes a major step forward in its bid to raise its profile in the global aviation market. Sara Hemrajani reports.
A debut in the skies for China's first big homemade passenger jet. The completion of this maiden flight is a cause for celebration in Beijing - The C919 plane is manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. It's a symbol of the country's 'Made in China 2025' plan, which aims to boost high-tech domestic production. SOUNDBITE: Chen Jianguo, 50-year-old spectator, saying (Mandarin): "I feel really stunned that the Chinese aviation industry has an even bigger platform to take off from. I actually build fighter planes, so when I saw today's maiden flight, I really was stunned." Planes are considered an important investment, with the global aircraft market estimated to be worth two trillion dollars over the next 20 years. SOUNDBITE: Jasper Lawler, Senior Market Analyst, London Capital Group, saying (English): "Obviously China is expected to be the largest market for future aircraft demand. The number of people flying in China is set to overtake the U.S. in a not too distant future. And so, China is setting itself up to have a home-grown industry that can take on some of that demand. And so eventually, naturally, China is probably going to choose its own aircraft manufacturer over the likes of Boeing and Airbus." But it's likely to be several years before China faces off with heavyweights Airbus and Boeing. The C919 test flight had been pushed back at least twice in the past - And the plane will have to pass safety inspections before being able to carry actual passengers.